Burglars on the Prowl: The Case for Shut Doors

Mar 20 , 2021
By Kidist Yidnekachew

It is unclear how he would have reacted today, but an optimistic expat in Ethiopia surprised me with an act most locals would not do.

“I don’t lock the doors when I sleep, because in your country, I know I am safe,” he said to me.

This was a few years back. I wonder if he still feels the same way today. I do not; at least not after what happened to me recently.

During daylight, a thief invited himself into my house, unplugged my phone from the charger, and took it while my husband and child slept. I had left the door open when I went downstairs for a few minutes, leaving the front door and gate open.

The neighbourhood is usually safe. Besides, I did not plan on staying away too long. At first, I just wanted to go down the stairs, and then I spontaneously decided to go to the parking area. The fact that the front door was open and my phone was laying on the arm of the couch in the living room did not even cross my mind. It probably took me 15 minutes or less to return, but it was too late.

After looking for the phone futilely for some time, we asked our neighbour if she had seen anybody come into the house. She did. She saw someone’s silhouette through the curtains but assumed it was one of my family members.

The audacity of what happened and how crime has evolved these days was astounding. The other day on our block, a TV was stolen, in broad daylight this time also. Perhaps it is expected, considering the sharp rise in the cost of living. When the economy is slow and unable to create the necessary amount of jobs, it does not take much mental gymnastics to assume that crime would be on the rise.

But this knowledge was not going to stop my husband and I. After repeated tries, the phone was answered by the burglar. I explained that the phone contains family photos and work documents and what his price was. The burglar asked for 3,000 Br. This was a reasonable price, he insisted, since he had already found a buyer for 4,000 Br.

“By the way, I found the phone on the floor, and I am trying to be cooperative by agreeing to give it back to you for this price,” he said, after asking for the password to the phone.

I lost it and screamed, “You can keep the phone, thief.”

I wanted to go on, but he hung up. Later, when I cooled down, we were looking for the silver lining to what happened. He could have taken other stuff too. My husband’s phone was on the table by the bed next to him, for instance. Most importantly, he could have taken the most valuable thing to me, my son. Indeed, kidnappings are not new.

It pays to be careful and vigilant. In the end, a rise in rates of crime is an indication of a lack of jobs, opportunities and, more importantly, hope. It is all the more reason to work to slow down the escalating price of living and jumpstart the slowed economic momentum.

On this one occasion, I was grateful that it was just my phone the burglar took; it could have been worse. The incident has taught me a lesson but left me paranoid. Now I close the front door even though I am inside the house. I wonder if that expat is keeping his optimism or has changed his mind.

PUBLISHED ON Mar 20,2021 [ VOL 21 , NO 1090]

Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at kidyyidnekachew@gmail.com.

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